By Jane Stevenson
TORONTO - One thing you can never accuse 60-year-old David Byrne of is being boring.
On the contrary.
The onetime Talking Heads leader has managed to stay current and vital since leaving the beloved avant garde New Wave act in the early ‘90s, and for his latest collaboration he’s hooked up with a real winner, effectively passing on the cool stamp of approval.
Byrne and St. Vincent — aka 29-year-old Annie Clark, who was formerly a member of The Polyphonic Spree and Surfan Stevens’ band before releasing three solo albums— have collaborated on a brass-filled funky new disc, Love This Giant.
It was their first effort that brought the formidable duo to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Thursday night, just a week after the album’s release.
Backed by eight brass players, drummer Brian Wolfe and keyboardist/co-musical director Daniel Mintseris, with everyone dressed in black and white, Byrne and Clark - shimmying in a purple mini dress and heels — expertly led the rowdy, appreciate audience through an hour and 40 minutes of Love This Giant material, their own solo songs respectively, and a few Talking Heads gems.
Besides both being accomplished guitarists and singers, Byrne and Clark also took part in choreographed dance moves alongside the brass players, who seemed game for just about anything.
The end result was a very theatrical, movement-based show with dramatic lighting and definitely a playful sense of humour.
Byrne himself got off a few good one-liners, like when he said he and Clark had never played the Queen Elizabeth Theatre before.
“It’s a new old venue,” he said, joking that topless shots of the Queen “could give Kate (Middleton) a run for her money.”
And when fans, who often shouted out song titles or their affection for Byrne, got his attention, he responded, like the audience member who shouted out: “David! You’re a God!”
“I guess that’s a compliment?” he joked in the darkness up on stage.
And while it was Byrne’s solo material like Strange Overtones (co-written by Brian Eno), Like Humans Do, and Talking Heads classics This Must Be The Place, Burning Down The House, and Road To Nowhere, that rose above the rest, Clark also produced some powerful musical statements on her own with Cheerleader, Cruel, and The Party, and the Byrne collaborations Lightning, One Who Broke Your Heart, and Outside Of Space And Time.
Also good was Byrne and Clark’s action-packed theremin duet on her Champagne Year.
When was the last time you saw that at a show?